I have been collecting Italian soundtracks for what seems to be forever now, the Italian or spaghetti western being one of the main genres that I sought out on my regular trips to London and to see Michael Jones in various retail outlets. So as you can imagine I purchased many of the soundtracks on LP record all those years back and the majority of these recordings were on the CAM label, CAM was I think one of the first if not the very first film music speciality labels that concentrated 99 percent of its efforts into releasing film music. One its early releases was from the western ADIOS GRINGO, with an atmospheric and highly innovative score by composer Benedetto Ghiglia. Innovative because it seemed to be an original sounding work within a number of original sounding works, but it was just slightly different the soundtrack contained no strings, it relied heavily upon the utilisation of percussion or at least percussive elements which created a sound and a style which was all on its own.
The score was re-issued on the CAM label on CD which was a straight lifting of the sixteen tracks that were on the original album, this had a running time of around 30 mins or just over, but for this re-issue Digit movies uncovered the mono tapes which yielded a further 30 mins of music including the song GRINGO performed by Fred Bongusto, so in total the re-issue contains over an hour of music from the score and this includes two previously unreleased stereo mixes of one of which is the title song. The composers use of percussion, guitar, choir and castanets creates a driving and infectious sound and although it is from a spaghetti western it has very few musical connections with the rest of the scores from the genre from that period, the style employed is at times similar to that of Gianni Ferrio and to a degree does contain certain rhythms and quirks of orchestration that can be found within scores by Cipriani, but that is where the similarities end as Ghiglia is certainly inventive and original, this inventive use of instruments can also be found within his score for FOR A DOLLAR IN THE TEETH which appeared on the CAM CD.
Released in 1965, ADIOS GRINGO is a Giuliano Gemma western that was directed by Giorgio Stegani and although not one of the genres finest or glittering examples it still manages to hold ones attention throughout and entertain at the same time. Ghiglia’s score adds much to the impact of certain scenes within the film and also stands alone as a separate entity to be savoured and enjoyed as just music. There are no saloon cues here no tender little western ditties in fact Ghiglia’s score is quite harsh and brash in places, it oozes a rawness and also has a simplicity to it but it works both on screen and off. Another one for the collection.
The releases from Italian record labels continues at pace and seems to gain momentum with each season whether or not these many soundtracks are indeed worth releasing or re-issuing is obviously down to each individual collectors opinion or taste in music and genre of film. Digit movies have over the years a number of soundtracks that in my humble opinion are very worthwhile, whether these be westerns, giallo,s, police dramas, comedies or horror etc, the label always seemed to come up with the goods and give us the film music collecting fraternity something that was enjoyable and entertaining. Alas things changed quite rapidly, and this is not the fault of the label, the producers or indeed the composers of the scores, but it is a case of a natural exhaustion of good scores that are available to release. Well I am pleased to say that recently the label released the score to MORTE SOSPETTA DI UNA MINORENNE or DEATH OF A MINOR which was composed by Italian Maestro Luciano Michelini, the score is certainly an original and interesting one and has within it a number of broad thematic compositions, the soundtrack seems to be one of many styles as in there are a number of sides to the work stylistically, firstly we are treated to a pop orientated style that is fused with a dramatic and slightly darker ambience, the composer utilising infectious rhythms and tracks that are frequented with organ which as it says in the info about the score are very reminiscent of the sound achieved by Italian group GOBLIN when they worked on movies such as PROFUNDO ROSSO. Then we have a more subtle and lighter side to the proceedings in which the composer creates a more carefree and slightly humorous or positive atmosphere within a number of cues, plus there are the many action pieces and chase sequence music tracks so it is a score of variation as well as being original. Released in 1975 the movie was directed by Sergio Martino, with the main roles being taken on by Claudio Cassinelli, Mel Ferrer and Lia Tanzi, Set in Milan is focuses upon the disappearance of a number of minors which seem to be baffling the police, Police commissioner Germi, decides to take the investigation to the streets of the city and poses as a thief snatching purses etc in the hope of tracking down the perpetrators. An entertaining movie which moves along briskly keeping the audience interested and absorbed with a soundtrack that is equally as entertaining. This is the first time that the score has been released onto compact disc and as always Digit movies have produced an attractive and well packaged item which has striking art work and very good sound quality. Michelini is in my opinion one of the many Italian composers who worked in film that is so sadly overlooked and at times forgotten. This is a score that I think you will return to many times and with each outing it will surrender up something fresh and new. Please Digit movies more like this,it is with all the releases from Italy very hard to get inspired or excited about anything that comes out these days as there is just so much, but this I Highly recommended.